Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bloom's Taxonomy: Criticisms

Criticisms of Bloom's Taxonomy
Educational theorists have criticized Bloom’s Taxonomy on a few grounds.
1. Learning is not sequential – Bloom’s Hierarchy seems too artificially constructed. It is a very linear, straightforward view of how humans comprehend information. Although each concept or classification has its place, researchers are beginning to see the mind as more of a web. A person might skip from knowledge to application then analyze the application, come to a conclusion (evaluation) and then re-analyze the conclusion all working toward a greater synthesis of information. Constructivist teaching has suggested that teachers need to spread higher-order thinking skills throughout a task rather than begin with the imparting of knowledge.
2. It is incomplete – Bloom concentrated his efforts on learning, yet there is little about motivation or about classroom management.
3. It is too precise – Classifying and separating learning into three spheres and nice hierarchies is a very modern, scientific view of learning. Yet, a postmodern critique would attempt to deconstruct this idea. For one, they would suggest that brain science is still in its earliest formation and that we do not entirely understand the mystery of the mind. In addition, postmodernists would suggest that many of the terms are simply artificial constructs used as ideology to conceal the messy side of learning.
4. It is individualistic – Unlike the Social Learning Theory, Bloom’s Taxonomy focuses heavily on how an individual learns. It misses what occurs when there are social forces. For example, an individual’s ability to reach “evaluation” can easily be clouded by “groupthink.”

Responses to Criticism
Critics make valid points. However, they need to keep a few things in mind. First, Bloom saw his work as scientific and therefore contributed to the larger, democratic pool of scientific reserach. If his theories were incomplete, this is because he saw them as always changing and he validated many outside theories. In addition, his taxonomy focuses on learning and assessment more than on how to teach. When critics take the time to read his work, they realize it was much broader than first assumed. In terms of being too precise and too individualistic, that is understandable. He lived during a period of rugged American individualism. He was a modern man, which meant that he took individualism, science and objective knowledge for granted.

9 comments:

Steve-o, aka "Ignatius J. Reilly" said...

You say that Bloom "took individualism, science and objective knowledge for granted." Of course he did--these were as important and true then as they are now.

This misses a bigger problem with criticisms of Bloom. Semantic juggling, replacing one verb with another, does little to change how students actually learn. It makes little difference whether a student "knows" that Washington was the first president, or whether the the student "analyzes" whether Washington was the first president.

Jonas said...

You say "...Bloom saw his work as scientific" yet there is surprisingly little solid empirical evidence to support Bloom's Model. Thus, why it is called a model or taxonomy (classification). In other words, it is not really a theory. At what point to you start to question some of these old school propaganda and behaviorist approaches?

Anonymous said...

It is interesting to consider that Bloom thought that 'remembering' is a skill that is the lowest level. People that don't learn (remember) history are bound to repeat it. It is true that human experience is it's own, personal chrysalis. It is very fascinating to consider that Bloom thought that creating was the highest order of thinking since humans have created nothing but collective chaos across all disciplines throughout history.

Brian said...

Putting synthesis above analysis (in the old version) I've always thought was iffy. Analysis at its best is about causes, and the causal domain is typical a system of events that have unfolded in time. An analyst must see the system (a synthetic operation if there ever was one) before her or she can entertain causes of events within it. Think of what a good medical doctor has to do in making a diagnosis.

It's hard to comment on the newer version. It seems to leave out efforts to see systemic totalities of any sort.

Anonymous said...

What about people (or children) who create first, then analyze, and then come to "knowledge"? That seems a very typical way much learning happens. Knowledge is the end result of analsis and synthesis. Too bad it doesn't fit the "model".

kamran ali said...

well can any one tell me that without knowledge analysis or application is possible or not.
I feel all levels given in Blom's taxonomy are overlapping.

Zerge said...

Most criticisms I´ve seen of Bloom´s Taxonomy are based on a confusion of concepts.

Bloom´s Taxonomy is not a model of learning; rather, it is a method of teaching.

It´s objective is not to explain how the mind acquires new information, but to propose a method of teaching new information.

That´s why if you try to understand Bloom´s Taxonomy as a model of the cognitive process of learning, it doesn´t quite fit.

Amjad Ayub said...

The world is now changed. We need to go on with our student's will. Keep in mind the blooms idea but go on with variation to accomplished task.

Arun B.K. said...

Bloom has done a good work during his time and was ahead of his times. But looking at Bloom from today's context is another thing. Bloom is not clear about the relationship among the entities. For example, how "Remembering" helps in "Understanding"? How "Understanding" helps "Applying"? There is no quantification of efforts needed at each stage. In view of this, I strongly propose some modifications in the model.